Davon Thomas, in her first 15s back since injury, on her way to a try. /// Photo courtesy Lindenwood Women’s Rugby
Lindenwood worked in a 15s game between 7s tournaments, taking on senior women’s club Twin Cities Amazons a week after finishing second at the LVI 7s. The Lions transitioned well, running up the scoreboard 43 points in the first half, but then allowed 24 unanswered points in the second stanza. Lindenwood must now switch playing mindsets again, as it prepares to host a USA Rugby 7s qualifier in St. Charles, Mo., next weekend.
While there were many familiar names on the pitch, there were also new combinations and starters being tested. The team welcomed Davon Thomas and Dana Olsen back from injury, and relished the impact of former Fallbrook star Bere Ruvalcaba on defense in the second half. The attack found comfort in the leadership of halfbacks Annakaren Pedraza and McKenzie Hawkins, who kept the fast-moving offense on the front foot.
“When we were connecting, it looked great on attack,” Lindenwood coach Billy Nicholas explained. “When we had the ball, our system was working, and we had some great phases of play. Just need to clean it up a bit ballhandling-wise.”
Lindenwood scored its 43 points during the first half. Fullback Neariah Persinger led the way on the scoreboard with three tries, while lock Laura Enk, outside center Hannah Gauthreaux, No. 8 Davon Thomas and flyhalf McKenzie Hawkins also dotted down. Hawkins added four conversions, too.
“We started strong, and I was impressed with that, really putting the pressure on the ‘Zons with our attack,” Nicholas added. “I was also particularly happy with the defense in our first half as well, as we pressured well and made a lot of positive tackles.”
With a 43-point cushion, Lindenwood lost some shape in the second half and allowed Twin Cities to punch in 24 points. It wasn’t enough for a victory, but the Amazons had the last word on the match.
“We need to take a look at our second half, make some adjustments, and really focus on finishing the match,” Nicholas informed. “Credit to the ‘Zons. They were relentless with their pick-and-go attack off the fringes, and we knew they would be strong ballcarriers. They really made us work today, which is exactly what we were hoping for in our first hit out of the 15s season.”
Lindenwood is chasing a trio of 7s and 15s championships this spring. With one more 15s warm-up at the St. Louis Ruggerfest, the Lions will enter the first-ever DI Elite playoffs against Life University. Once that competition ends, then it’s all 7s – first, USA Rugby’s 7s championship, and then the USA Sevens CRC.